Photos by Sumio Yamada
JAMES KIRKLAND DQ end of 10 CARLOS MOLINA
Referee Jon Schorle’s decision to disqualify Carlos Molina robbed boxing fans of the chance to see a dramatic, cliffhanger finish in the fight with James Kirkland. It has to be one of the most controversial endings in recent years, perhaps of all time.
The way MC Michael Buffer announced the verdict, the referee had no choice but to disqualify Molina when Molina’s cornerman entered the ring. Yet this was clearly an unfortunate error by the cornerman and there was no malicious intent.
Things happen so fast in a boxing match, and this was the case in the closing moments of Saturday’s junior middleweight elimination bout. The bell sounded when Molina went down at the end of the 10th and referee Schorle was correct in giving the 8 count.
By entering the ring while the count was in progress, the cornerman was in violation of the rules. The cornerman ducked out of the ring as soon as he had been ordered to do so. Obviously, a cornerman wants to minister to a hurt fighter at the earliest possible moment. Molina’s cornerman jumped the gun. I would have thought that in a case such as this there was a good case for a referee to show discretion. However, a referee might feel that a line must be drawn — that rules are there to be obeyed and that the game just can’t afford to have trainers entering a ring inappropriately.
What everyone can agree on is that Molina fought a terrific fight and he was unlucky in that he committed no foul yet left the ring as a loser. Kirkland deserves a bit of credit, though. He was being made to miss, getting roughed up and mauled around and also getting hit by hard, flush punches, but he kept chugging forward like a slow locomotive down the track and finally his sheer physical strength and insistence was starting to wear down Molina.
As Emanuel Steward pointed out in the HBO commentary, Molina’s legs were looking very weak in the 10th round. Indeed, at one point I thought that Molina was hardly able to stand. Kirkland wasn’t landing anything really flush on the target area, but he was clubbing Molina all over the place.
I don’t go along with the widely held view that Molina was robbed of victory. After nine rounds, Las Vegas judge Dave Moretti had Molina up by five points, Oklahoma judge David Sutherland saw Molina winning by 87-84 while Texas judge Gale Vane Hoy bizarrely had Kirkland in front, 86-85. Kirkland would have won the 10th round by 10-8, no question about that. So, with two rounds remaining, Kirkland would have been behind by just one point on the Sutherland card and up three points on the Van Hoy card — and he was looking much the stronger man. I think it is more than likely that Kirkland would have won the last two rounds on sheer strength and insistence to eke out a split decision. He might even have been able to stop Molina. Yet Molina might have been able to gather himself and come back punching, and Kirkland had spent a lot of mental and physical energy trying to batter Molina out of the fight in the 10th. Truth be told, we can’t be sure what would have happened had the fight been allowed to continue.